Pulmonary Hypertension: Diagnosis

Reviewed by Brett E. Fenster, MD, FACC, FASE

The diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension (PH) can be difficult and is often delayed until the disease has progressed. PH cannot be diagnosed non-invasively.

An ultrasound of the heart, or echocardiogram, can provide an estimate of the pressure in the heart.

Only a procedure called a right heart catheterization (RHC) can directly measure blood pressure in the lungs and determine if PH is present. RHC can also be used to determine if PH is responsive to intravenous vasodilator medication, which in turn determines whether or not an individual is a candidate for chronic medication treatment.

Other tests are performed to screen for associated diseases, including blood tests, EKG, chest X-ray, pulmonary function testing, and a test for lung blood clots called a ventilation/perfusion scan (V/Q scan). A 6 minute walk time is typically performed to assess an individual's exercise capacity.

Clinical Trials

4-Dimensional Cardiac MRI for Diagnosing and Assessing Pulmonary Hypertension

Have you been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension? Researchers at National Jewish Health are looking at the use of a 4-dimensional (4D) cardiac MRI for diagnosing and assessing severity of pulmonary hypertension. If you are 18 years of age or older and have been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, then you may qualify! Study participation is just 2 visits and includes an initial 4D cardiac MRI at visit #1 and then another 4D MRI at visit #2 about 12 months later. Please call Valerie Snyder at 303.270.2591 for more information and to see if you qualify.

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